Posted by: Lister | September 13, 2007

Al-Qaida in Iraq

From Decline and Fall begins a recent post with an observation he made a week ago regarding the motivations of the insurgents he interrogated in Iraq:

The vast majority of them weren’t radical Muslims, bin Laden acolytes or Saddam hardliners; they were motivated by nationalism. They opposed the U.S. occupation of what they saw as their sovereign land (silly them!) so they lashed out in the most meaningful way they could: at the “collaborators” in their midst aiding and abetting the occupying, colonial power. It’s basic insurgency doctrine, folks. In my experience, “religious fanaticism” is the veneer that some in Iraq, and even more in the West, use to cover what is essentially the struggle to get out from under the thumb of a strongman.

He backs this up now with an article The Myth of AQI. The size and influence of AQI is contested, rather than its existence. It lists everybody as having a motive to blame Iraq; from the insurgents (who don’t want the credit for attacks on civilians) to the Bush admin (who need an excuse to stay). I’ll quote a bit about the bombing of the Mosque in Samara, back in 2006:

[…] it remains unclear whether the original Samara bombing was itself the work of AQI. The group never took credit for the attack, as it has many other high-profile incidents. The man who the military believe orchestrated the bombing, an Iraqi named Haitham al-Badri, was both a Samara native and a former high-ranking government official under Saddam Hussein. (His right-hand man, Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, was also a former military intelligence officer in Saddam Hussein’s army.) Key features of the bombing did not conform to the profile of an AQI attack. For example, the bombers did not target civilians, or even kill the Shiite Iraqi army soldiers guarding the mosque, both of which are trademark tactics of AQI. The planners also employed sophisticated explosive devices, suggesting formal military training common among former regime officers, rather than the more bluntly destructive tactics typical of AQI. Finally, Samara was the heart of Saddam’s power base, where former regime fighters keep tight control over the insurgency. Frank “Greg” Ford, a retired counterintelligence agent for the Army Reserves, who worked with the Army in Samara before the 2006 bombing, says that the evidence points away from AQI and toward a different conclusion: “The Baathists directed that attack,” says Ford.

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